Gemma Farrell has studied various styles of yoga, including Iyengar, Sivananda, Jivamukti, Yin, Insight, and Integral yoga. Her current approach to teaching yoga fuses the precise alignment principles of Iyengar yoga with the freedom and creativity of a Vinyasa Flow practice, and incorporates the deeper release stretching and meditative aspects of Yin Yoga. Gemma sees yoga as a vehicle for self-discovery and a means for increasing our awareness of the present moment, an opportunity to cultivate wisdom and compassion, and above all, as an invitation to foster a spirit of devotion and open our hearts to love and serve others.
Susan Finegold attended many kinds of yoga classes while teaching English Literature in England. She found it enthralling, and decided to learn to teach it herself. Susan is trained to teach Iyengar-style yoga, and her classes focus on precision in the alignment of each posture as well as on creative ways to generate keener awareness in the practice. Susan teaches our Alignment-Based Yoga classes and is taking a break for the summer months. She will return to her classes in the Fall.
For Elizabeth Scura, yoga easily became a way of life. Its fluid movement and ability to ease stress while opening the body and calming the mind became a necessity. After many years of experiencing back pain from scoliosis, she realized the incredible healing benefits of yoga when she replaced her chiropractor with a daily yoga practice. It was then that she decided to become a yoga instructor so she could help others as well. Prior to teaching yoga, Elizabeth spent her time working as a preschool and toddler teacher at Princeton Montessori School and the YWCA. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Art and loves photography, drawing and watercolor. In her yoga classes, Elizabeth encourages students to focus on breath mindfulness, emphasizing the importance of alignment.
Arthur (Ato) Co is a chef and martial artist who has been practicing the martial arts since he was eight years old. Originally Chinese, born in the Philippines, he studied Southern Shaolin style of Ngo Cho Kun kung fu at the Heng Han Kung Fu School in Manila. In his twenties, Ato followed his dream to become an American citizen and immigrated to the US in 1984. He owns Sakura Express Japanese Restaurant in downtown Princeton.
Inspired by the hypnotic, pulsing melodies and rhythms of the cyber hippie state of Goa, India is what brought Samuel Steward to the ancient science of Yoga and Inner Engineering. As a teenager his fascination with God and all things spiritual was influenced by the cultural practices that surrounded the electronic dance music movement of India’s Goa Trance Beach Parties. Through the experience of a collective state of bodily transcendence, similar to that of ancient shamanic dancing rituals, Samuel found that he was able to escape from the stress and anxieties of the common world and unlock the secrets of Love and Joy which were resting deep within his heart. To keep up with the physical demands of all night dancing he adopted the practice of Yoga Asana and soon realized that its benefits offered much more than a great set of abs and unending stamina. With the use of yoga, Samuel has transcended from ordinary living and discovered a way in which to live this life as a Magical Journey of unending Divine Observation and Self Expression. Samuel has studied with some of the most popular teachers in the world but the most powerful revelations of his practice have come from his relationships with students and the people he loves.
Melanie spent years under the tutelage of teachers such as Erich Schiffmann, Maty Ezraty, Chuck Miller, Rodney Yee, Seane Corn, Shiva Rea, Rod Stryker, Brian Kest, and Anodea Judith PhD. Her deepunderstanding of alignment came from her studies with B.K.S. Iyengar and Richard Freeman. She hasalso studied Kundalini yoga with Yogi Bhajan (who blessed her with her spiritual name, Simran Khaur) and Gurmukh Khaur Khalsa. Melanie has co-taught national teachers trainings with Seane Corn, Anodea Judith and Mathew Sandford, and holds the highest level of certification; ERYT 500. In her Private practice she specializes in Grief recovery, Life Coaching in the Gestalt Method, nutrition & holistic health, positive psychology and therapeutic yoga. Melanie is a founding fellow of Harvard Universities Institute of Coaching and resides locally with her 16 year old son and guru, Gideon, who is her greatest teacher of all.
Andrea Mecquel (“Mecquel”) is a practitioner and dancer who has been teaching yoga and movement in the Princeton area since 2002. With her degree in Psychology and years of work as a behavioral therapist, Mecquel addresses aspects of the whole person, body and mind, in yoga practice and movement. Rooted in Ashtanga, Iyengar, Jivamukti, Saraswati, and Bhakti traditions, and influenced by the study of modern dance and improvisational techniques, Mecquel seeks to train the body and mind for freedom in movement which comes from strength, range of motion, and awareness. Mecquel is currently studying dance and functional anatomy , Ideokinesis, and improvisational movement.
Brigitte Aflalo-Calderon has been teaching yoga for 15 years. She teaches both to adults and children in the US and France, where she resides part of the year. Brigitte believes that yoga can be part of our lives, at any age and in any condition. She sees yoga as a friend, always available, and strives to impart her approach to her students. Her classes offer a supportive environment conducive to nurturing body and soul. As a child’s yoga instructor, Brigitte encourages creativity, spontaneity and camaraderie. A native French-speaker, Brigitte peppers her classes with French words. When she is not teaching or traveling throughout the world, she is writing stories for children. Brigitte is taking a break for the summer months and will return to her classes in the late Fall.
Dagmar Andersen warmed up slowly to yoga. Initially considering it simply as an exciting new way to keep fit, it took many hours on the mat for her yoga infatuation to grow into a more thoughtful pursuit. In the course of her teacher training, Dagmar came to appreciate the concepts that govern the various yoga traditions and the wonderful teachers who spread its teachings and keep the practice alive. Dagmar is drawn to group yoga because she loves the collective breath and energy that unfolds in class. Beyond her 200 hour yoga teacher certification, Dagmar is a registered Radiant Child yoga instructor. Off the mat, Dagmar has been a grant officer, a media analyst, a writer and journalist, and radio producer.
Nina Mongendre teaches Kundalini Yoga, Prenatal Yoga, and Mommy & Me Yoga. Her mission is to help students connect to the place within that is all knowing, calm and joyful. Kundalini Yoga is referred to as the Yoga of Awareness. It is a dynamic, powerful technology appropriate for all that is designed to trigger an experience of the unchanging Self. In each class, Nina uses movement, sound current, breath and meditation to relax and heal the mind and body, allowing the spirit to flow freely. Nina grew up in a spiritual household, and from an early age recognized a longing to teach and share this experience with others. Growing up in France, Nina’s early teachers were the books from her parent’s library on yoga, meditation, psychology and philosophy. Later, Nina studied Psychology, Art History and Religion at Brown University, after which she moved to New York, where the connection with Kundalini Yoga was born.
Mikhail finds that yoga and meditation help manage the daily stresses and demands of his job. He is passionate about sharing the practical and powerful tools that he uses daily to enhance creativity, increase focus, and lower stress. His teaching style is uplifting, pragmatic and compassionate, and he enjoys helping others discover and evolve their personal patterns. Mikhail, his wife Nina (who also teaches at Gratitude), and their daughter Alaia recently moved to Princeton from Los Angeles, where they had been studying and teaching yoga and meditation.
Amy Guinn discovered yoga in the midst of a very stressful culinary career. She dove into her practice head first, and eventually traveled to Rishikesh, India where she received her Hatha Yoga therapy and Ayurvedic massage certifications. Amy is grateful to her teachers and most of all to her students who are constantly teaching her and evolving her yoga practice. She hopes to bring the importance of breath and alignment to the students’ practice, and most of all, the idea that our practices are constantly flowing, changing from day to day, and that there is so much more beyond the physical practice of yoga.
Holly Westergren completed a 200-hr yoga teacher training at Vibrant Living Yoga in Bali, Indonesia where she studied with Daniel Aron, David Williams, Edward Clark and Emil Wendell. She has taken classes and workshops with Dharma Mittra, Mark Whitwell, and Lilavati. Holly has taught yoga to middle school children with The World Yoga Project, bringing yoga to inner city schools in the City of Brotherly Love. Holly grew up in Princeton and is delighted to be back in her hometown, where she is finding her own restoration.
Jordan Faigen was an avid half marathoner before a running accident caused her to search for activities with less physical impact. After finding yoga classes as a means to stay fit, Jordan fell in love with the spiritual nature and physical and mental discipline of the practice. While living abroad in Israel, Jordan enrolled in a yoga teacher training course focused on Ashtanga yoga in order to deepen her knowledge and master proper alignment. During this yoga journey Jordan learned she had a passion for teaching others and she is excited to share the practice of yoga at Gratitude Yoga.
Lorraine is a true believer in the power of yoga, and she wants to share those tools for a happy life with her students. She has trained with Baron Baptiste, (completed Levels 1 and 2) Paige Ellenson, Bryan Kest, Denise Bonnaig, and David Rugellin, among others. She is also a fitness instructor and personal trainer in the Princeton area. Lorraine believes in yoga as a conduit for transformation and grace through a healthy body and a quiet mind. Her intention is to help her students open up to possibility, to embrace change, and to harness the power we each have inside. She has taught classes in Austin, Madrid, Brooklyn, Savannah, and Rome.
Annie Jain strives to connect her own mind, body, and breath in order to be a better human being and to help her yoga students do the same. She received her 200 Hour teacher training certificate in 2006 from Yogaworks in NYC and her 500 Hour advanced certification in therapeutic yoga in Coonoor, India in 2007. Annie considers the 14 years of yoga she did before last year as prep work for this, her 15th year of yoga. For the last year she has practiced Mysore-style yoga with Samuel Steward who has helped her develop the five elements in her practice so that they have become a deep and constant presence. Annie believes that yoga is the best platform for achieving a healthy body and mind, and for the ultimate goal of overcoming the bonds of Samsara and achieving Bliss. And it is to this end that she loves sharing yoga as a teacher.